One of the biggest factors students consider when deciding what to get their degree in is the prospect of the career they are considering. What is the demand for psychologists currently? In 5 years? 10? With tuition rates skyrocketing and student debt piling up, students are choosing wisely, and looking at their education as a cost-benefit analysis.

In a recent article about the recent fall in law school applications, Michelle J. Anderson, dean of the City University of New York School of Law claimed “students are doing the math” when it comes to considering law school; they are seeing the downsizing and layoffs that are occurring in law firms. According to a study by the American Bar Association, only about half of law school graduates found jobs that required passage of the bar exam.

Michigan Law School

Michigan Law School
Image: Alan C (taekwondweirdo) via Flickr

Law schools are taking a hard hit. The number of students applying to law school this past fall dropped by 20 percent from last year. Law school used to be seen as a simple path to success and a good paying job, but now, due to the rise in cost of tuition and the loss of law jobs due to the growth of the Internet, it is no longer a sure route.

Kendall Coffey, speaking on the underemployment of law graduates, makes some insightful points. He addresses that while there are “jobless lawyers and lawyerless clients,” there is a high demand for lawyer representation for middle-class citizens. Why has this not been considered a possible route for a law school graduates? Kendall Coffey speaks about the prestige that comes with working in a law firm, but points out that these jobs no longer pay monthly mortgages and student loans.

In this shift we are seeing in law, Kendall Coffey suggests a change in law school curricula to one that focuses on preparing students for middle-class representation by providing them with real world legal experience. He believes that if law school graduates reduce their rates to ones that are affordable for the middle-class, their clients will come, as well as their income.